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Eric Washington shaping up to be a leader for MU

Taylor Made

Every program needs a face, a leader. Someone that will start the turnaround and be the change the program needs. The Miami University basketball program desperately needs that.

They've found it. It comes in the form of a 5-foot-10 point guard.

Eric Washington.

"He's a work horse," head coach John Cooper. "Shows up early, stays late. He's become a leader."

Eric Washington came to Miami two seasons ago from the Presbyterian Blue Hose. NCAA guidelines required he sit out one season after transferring.

As a sophomore at Presbyterian he averaged 6.5 assists per game, good enough for 15th in the nation.

All you have to do is watch him one time to be captivated with how effortless passing has became to him.

How did he get so great? Washington credits hours of watching YouTube videos of Chris Paul's and Steve Nash's mind-blowing passes. He did not watch them for fun; he watched them to study. He would go to his backyard, and as many of us have once did, practice until he mimicked his heroes.

Against Southern Utah on Nov. 16, Washington's first real game in over a year, he stole the ball and flew down the court. A two-on-one opened up for Washington and Geovonie Mcknight. Washington took flight towards the basket, but where was the ball?


McKnight easily laid the ball in the basket and Millett Hall jumped as one after the disappearing ball trick performed by No. 33.

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No look passing is an art that made 'Pistol' Pete Maravich famous. Washington has learned that art and has senior guard Will Sullivan ecstatic to play alongside him.

"He's the first point-guard that I've played with that you really have to be ready for the ball at anytime," Sullivan said.

He's a headache for defenses. If you attack Washington too hard he will find the open man and get the ball to him one way or another.

But, just as soon as you leave Washington a few inches of space to guard the pass, you get beat.

His speed and quickness allow him to penetrate defenses, drive inside and get easy layups.

From passing to scoring, Eric Washington does it all. And, that scoring ability is the most recent weapon Washington has added to his arsenal. Washington knew the game had changed and being a pass-only guard would not work at the college level.

His newfound scoring ability pairs nicely with his passing prowess. Together, they've created a nearly unstoppable player.

It's one thing to be a great player. To be the change this program needs, you need to be a leader as well.

Washington is that leader.

"You can't break," Washington said. "Because if you break, the team is going to break."

Combine the talent Washington has with his leadership abilities and what you get is a player to build around.

The RedHawks basketball program has not been relevant since 2007. That season, they won the Mid-American Conference tournament and nearly defeated the Oregon Ducks in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Since then, Miami has struggled to get to .500.

That changes next season. The team is rough around the edges, but watch how the team progresses with the season.

Next year, Washington will be a senior. He will also have a full season to grow with his team. Developing chemistry is something that comes with live-game action. The bumps and bruises now will only build a resistant team next season.

It may be tough to say the team will take a giant leap forward now, but I am doing it. I am jumping into the deep end with both feet.

Washington is the change the program needs.